Wed, Jan 23rd, 2013

Facebook ‘makes you feel miserable and jealous’: One in three people feel WORSE after visiting friends’ pages, survey shows

Researchers say more than a third of users ‘feel worse’ after visiting the site

  • Holiday pictures and images of busy social lives ‘the most depressing posts’

Facebook can make you feel socially isolated and miserable because seeing friends’ happy pictures triggers feelings of envy, two studies have found.

Academics claim one in three people feel worse after visiting the site and that their ‘general dissatisfaction’ with life had increased.

German researchers from two universities studied 600 people and found that those who browsed without contributing were more likely to feel bad afterwards.

Positive images of friends enjoying holidays, commenting on their happy lives or simply posting pet pictures was enough to trigger feelings of jealousy, experts from Berlin’s Humboldt University and Darmstadt’s Technical University found.

The Facebook test group said what riled them most were happy holiday snaps of ‘Facebook friends’ followed by gushing prose of fabulous lives, great jobs and cracking social diaries.

The academics said people who surfed a lot on such sites were in danger of becoming socially isolated and depressed.

Which poses a conundrum the academics have not yet been able to answer: are lonely people drawn to social networks in a bid to come out of themselves or merely to cement their isolation?

Researchers say that visiting Facebook made a third of users feel ‘miserable and jealous’

Researchers said those who were most unhappy and dissatisfied tended to be those who did not get involved, just choosing to read posts or click on to photos.

Thirty percent of the 600 people who took part in two studies cited envy as the main source of their Facebook unhappiness while 36 percent said they were ‘sometimes’ or ‘very often’ frustrated after going on Facebook.

Hanna Krasnova of Humboldt University said; ‘We have scientifically demonstrated that online networks provided access to lots of positive news and profiles from successful ‘friends’ that trigger jealousy.’

Researchers say that checking Facebook can actually depress you – with holiday snaps from exotic locations being the worst offenders

One example of a study participant feeling down was because a site friend had received more birthday greetings than she had.

‘Success, talents and possessions lead to reactions of envy,’ said the researchers.

‘Everyone who is posting is always trying to depict themselves as well as possible and therefore the posts are predominantly positive.’

Facebook friends, said the boffins, are using the site as a measure of their own success and popularity – but people are overestimating the happiness of others just by what they read, thus crafting a perfect envy base.

‘Envy can proliferate in social networks and be intensified through passive tracking,” the researchers write.

But it’s not all bad; other studies claim Facebook users can feel ‘understood’ and ‘connected with others’ through the site.


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